The Art & Etiquette of Using Chopsticks

Chopsticks have been around for thousands of years, and are the staple utensil in our Japanese restaurant. For some people, using chopsticks just seems to come naturally. For others, it’s an acquired skill that often begins with the addition of a rubber band. Whatever the case, once you’ve mastered the two-stick utensils, there are a few rules of chopsticks etiquette that should be observed.

  • When taking food from a platter, reverse the chopsticks so you reach with the end that does not go into your mouth. This is a show of respect for your fellow diners.
  • When your chopsticks are not in use, place them beside your plate—parallel, not crossed—or on a chopsticks rest, if one is provided. You can also fold the paper case that contained the chopsticks to make a chopstick rest. Do not place them across the top of your bowl.
  • Do not skewer food with your chopsticks, and never leave them standing up in your food. In Japan, this is called a “cemetery,” and it is a practice that is definitely frowned upon.
  • If you are served wooden chopsticks in a restaurant, it is fine to remove the tiny splinters by gently rubbing them together. Do not, however, make a big show of doing so, since it indicates that you believe the utensils are cheap. (They are, of course, but there’s no need to point this out to your waiter or the sushi chef!) Also keep in mind that disposable chopsticks are far more hygienic than reusable ones.
  • It’s bad luck to transfer or pass food from your chopsticks to someone else’s chopsticks. Always offer a plate to receive food from someone else.

Have you mastered the art and etiquette of chopsticks? Share with us on our social media channels if you are a chopsticks pro!

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